This is not the way the Ravens want to go into the playoffs

December 16, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

The Ravens say they're not panicking, but the alert level has to be up around Defcon 4 after this one.

Heading into the final two games of the regular-season, they now find themselves with an offense that looks lost and a quarterback who seems to be leaking confidence.

Not exactly a great way to go into the playoffs.

When this embarrassing 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos was over Sunday, John Harbaugh offered some brave talk. But in light of how thoroughly the Ravens were dominated, it rang hollow.

The Ravens might want to start making changes with their offense, which did nothing yesterday under new coordinator Jim Caldwell and is now officially a huge problem.

"We didn't do real good," Ray Rice said. "We didn't come out, we didn't execute. And . . . the defense played a heck of a game. It was our job to score. We'll take this one."

They sure will. It's way too early to put too much blame on Caldwell, seeing how inconsistent the offense has been for weeks. And I didn't hear anyone in the crowd calling for the return of Cam Cameron, who must have been laughing himself silly as he watched this one on the couch at home.

But nothing Caldwell called early in the game — well, when it was still a game, anyway — seemed to work.

Flacco was dreadful at times. He completed 20 of 40 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns. But the two touchdowns to Dennis Pitta came in garbage time, in the fourth quarter with the Ravens down 31-3 and the janitors practically standing by in M&T Bank Stadium to turn off the lights.

Flacco was pressured all day by the fierce Denver pass rush. And he was slammed to the ground often enough to open a gash on his chin. When the TV cameras flashed on him in the third quarter, he looked like he'd gone 10 rounds with Juan Manuel Marquez.

But Flacco killed the Ravens with his own mistakes, too.

He fumbled in the first quarter on a quarterback sneak when he seemed to just drop the ball, which gave the Broncos possession at their own 47 and led to a 3-0 Denver lead.

And he threw that awful pick-six to Broncos' corner Chris Harris with the Ravens on the Denver 4-yard line, which effectively resulted in a 14-point swing and made it 17-0 Broncos.

"We had some self-inflicted issues around halftime," is the way Harbaugh delicately put it. The man has a feel for the language, all right.

Whether the Ravens should have called time out before Flacco's pass or whether it was the right call from Caldwell or whomever is debatable.

What isn't debatable is that it was a bad decision by Flacco to try to force the ball to Anquan Boldin, who ran a little out-route in the corner of the end zone after Torrey Smith ran a fade over the top that fooled no one on the Broncos' defense.

"I just made a mistake, there's no other way to put that," Flacco said. "I made a mistake. I wanted to have the fade and I came down to the flat, and the guy undercut it, picked it and went the whole way."

Give Flacco credit: he never ducks blame for his screw-ups. He stays there in these postgame pressers after a loss and takes every last question and never whines.

Give him credit for not giving up after the pick, too. He raced the length of the field after Harris and finally tripped him up at the 2-yard line as the cornerback's momentum carried him in for the score.

For the next 10 seconds, Flacco lay facedown on the turf, a picture of agony.

When he finally dragged himself to his feet, he wore the look of a man in shock. It was only seconds before halftime, but already you sensed the game was over.

And if the Ravens don't fix this offense, the season will be over soon, too.

It won't be easy. Not with the New York Giants coming to town next week. Not with a road game against the Cincinnati Bengals to end the regular-season.

Not with the way the Ravens are playing, either.

Right now, they look lost.

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. on Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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